Northern Colorado leaders publicly discuss secession from the state

AKRON – Elected leaders from throughout northeastern Colorado gathered Monday in Akron to discuss how they could secede from the state.

All five Weld County commissioners attempted to persuade county commissioners from nine other rural Colorado counties to back Weld’s proposal to create a new U.S. state. Elected leaders from Morgan, Logan, Washington, Yuma, Sedgwick, Phillips, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties attended the meeting at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Akron.

The commissioners from the nine counties ranged in their support of the measure with some unsure about whether their constituents would back secession while others said Northern Colorado residents supported the idea.

The commissioners complained about the passage of legislation regulating the oil and gas industry, a lack of funding for rural roads and schools, and the passage of Senate Bill 252, which enhanced the renewable energy standard for rural utilities.

Colorado law required that rural electric cooperatives provide 10 percent of their power via renewables by 2020. The new law doubles that requirement to 20 percent.

“Enough is enough from our growing liberal legislators,´ said Lea Ann Laybourn, a Washington County commissioner.

Commissioner Dean Wingfield of Yuma County criticized the proposal to secede as a “crackpot idea” that catered to fringe politics.

“Until we get back to commonsense Republicans, commonsense Democrats, we got a problem,” he said.

The proposal has drawn attention from throughout the nation since Weld County commissioners acknowledged earlier this month that they had discussed the proposal with leaders in other counties. Monday’s meeting marked the first public dialogue by elected leaders throughout the region on details of the proposal with dozens of Northern Colorado residents attending.

County commissioners could place the issue on the ballot for a vote and demand that the state Legislature grant the region statehood, Weld County Attorney Bruce Barker said. Colorado voters, as well as Congress, ultimately would have to approve secession.

Northern Colorado counties would have to make a decision by September whether to include the measure on their November ballots, Barker said.

County commissioners agreed to meet again 2 p.m. July 8 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. They decided to invite to the upcoming meeting other elected leaders from southeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska counties that Weld County commissioners said also had expressed interest in secession.

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